Is there any consensus around here for the use of tanning beds in winter? I guess I'm asking for both health and vanity reasons (definitely look healthier with a little color).
I just wrote an article about this that will be out in January.
I tan in order to be prepared to enjoy the sun when the weather warms. There is no other way for me to do this. I will only burn relentlessly. Why? Because sunscreens only block vitamin D producing UVB rays, not UVA, which actually cause more damage. Natural melanin (sun tan) blocks both.
As for melanoma risk, there is no direct connection to sunlight, other than a history of severe sunburn. Melanoma patients are actually critically low in vitD. Melanoma is unknown in hunter-gatherer groups and indoor workers get it more often than outdoor workers.
There is some evidence that a crappy diet predisposes people to skin cancers. I know, big surprise for us Paleo folks! As Shanahan and Gedgaudas talk about in their respective books, sugars and bad fats increase the risk of damage from UV light. It's possible that all those antioxidants in our veggies and fruits are actually helping to minimize this damage.
Chances are, depending on your genetic heritage, that it's okay to have less sun in the winter months. But if going on vacation, I highly recommend getting a safe base tan under controlled conditions, but avoiding going into George Hamilton territory.
Many tanning salons these days are catering to folks who tan for vitD purposes. Newer beds have more UVB bulbs, you can ask about it and they should know. Start out gradually and minimally.
The goal is to avoid sunburn at all costs. And the best way to do it is to have a tan. For my pasty self, tanning beds are the way to go. It's not a perfect solution, and not one without some risk, but welcome to life on earth. :)
Good luck reaching consensus on anything around here! I use a tanning bed in winter, and my mood is infinitely improved in the gray gloomy weather because of this. Supplementing vitamin D wasn't enough to get me out of my winter blues so I tried tanning last winter, and after a few times felt the fog I'd been living in for months start to lift...this year I went straight to indoor tanning as soon as the weather was too cool for outdoor, and so far, no deathly dread has set in! And I get the added benefit of having a lovely glow that people actually comment on (and then I embarrass myself admitting that I fake 'n bake)...
I’ve been using the Mercola standing tanning bed for about a year and a half. I got the standing unit so that I stand a particular distance away from it so that I’m not getting a blast of UV rays stronger than the sun. I also bought UVA and UVB meters so that I could measure the bed’s output.
What I found with the UV meters is that the tanning bed is 4x stronger than the sun (at solar noon in the summer in DC) if you stand right up against it. I stand 2-3 feet away where it gives me a sun-like quantity of UV rays.
I highly advise against using standard horizontal tanning beds, as it's unlikely that we're properly adapted to UV output higher than what the sun provides. But I do highly recommend a standing unit.
Bad idea. UVB rays are what triggers vitamin D production in our skin, and most indoor tanning facilities use predominantly or solely UVA bulbs. Often these UVA bulbs are a much higher intensity than natural sunlight (think 3-12x as much), which will cause more oxidative damage to the skin. Additionally UVA rays do not cause burning for most people (that's our friend UVB); without that painful warning that your skin is getting damaged, you can much more easily bake yourself right into a leathery-skinned middle age.
Spray tans can look very nice; most people request them too dark.
Mark just posted on this on the Daily Apple. It seems that the bulbs are too strong and that sitting against them isn't optimum. Try possibly finding a stand up booth and only going in for a few minutes at a time. That will at least help to minimize the bad. Although I agree that natural light is better. But since you need it on like 70% of your body for 20 minutes daily- well- you might get pretty freaking cold trying to make that happen in the winter.
Can imagine trying to get that sun during your lunch break at work? Ha ha. I guess you could keep your hat on!